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  CNN    CNN Newsroom    News/Business.  

    March 13, 2011
    2:00 - 3:00pm EDT  

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challenge question was -- c, the united states marines fought on the shores of tripoli in the first barbary war in the early 1800s, the first time the american flag was planted in victory overseas. for extra credit. where are the halls of montezuma? thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. i will see you next week. american search and rescue teams on the ground, ready to urgently assist in japan after the huge earthquake and tsunami. also, conflicting reports on a possible nuclear meltdown there. what's actually happening? all of this causing a sizeable economic impact in japan, the u.s. and beyond. you're in the cnn news room. i'm fredricka witfield. we'll get to all of those angles in japan and beyond. but first, a look at some other top stories. in the middle east, yemeni security forces fired guns and tear gas at protesters outside
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sanaa university today. at least 110 people were hurt. protesters are angry over high unemployment and what they see as government corruption and a lack of political freedom. two men with ties to egypt's former leader have been arrested for orchestrating this assault on protesters in cairo's tahrir square. armed attackers charged through the crowd on horses and camels last month. nine days later, hosni mubarak was overthrown. and in the u.s., new york police and the ntsb are investigating a bus crash that killed 14 people. there are conflicting reports about what caused the bus to flip and swerve into a pole yesterday. the driver says he was cut off by a semi truck. but witnesses say the bus was speeding. >> the bus turned on its side and as a result, the pole of the stanchion in essence cut the bus
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in half. >> we had about seven or eight people pinned in the rear of the bus, that we had to cut out by either removing seats or recut a hole in the roof of the bus. >> the bus driver was hospitalized with nonlife-threatening injuries. and residents of northern new jersey are hoping today could be the start of a drying trend. days of heavy rain have soaked the state. evacuated residents in red cross shelters want to go home. but there's still major flooding in the cities of patterson and wayne, where two big rivers crested overnight. and at a texas air show, a wing-walking team is critically injured after their aerobatics plane crash-landed. a woman was doing her act when the plane's engine simply failed. her husband, the pilot, got the plane to the ground as you saw there. but then, it caught fire. both suffered extensive burns.
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now to our focus on japan. japanese officials say it's possible a minor meltdown has already happened at a nuclear plant in northeast japan. monitors detected what may have been the melting of a fuel rod at the plant. but they say there's no sign of dangerous radiation levels in the area. on cnn's state of the union today, candy crowley asked japan's ambassador to the united states about efforts to cool the reactors. >> it is better to put in clear water. but we do not have enough supply of clear water there. so we are putting in sea water. >> so it's not necessarily a sign that things are dire. it is a sign that you don't have the kind of water you'd like to use? >> we do not, if there's a clear water, it would be better for reactor itself. but in order to cool down, sea water would have the same effect as clear water. and the effect we are trying to get is trying to get the reactor
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to cool down. >> in just a few minutes, we'll talk with an expert on nuclear plants and other measures that might be considered. japan has now started rolling blackouts and turned off the lights at major landmarks to conserve electricity. the nation is struggling to repair power plants that friday's earthquake and tsunami damaged. 1.3 million japanese are still without power today. an american carrier group is running emergency supplies into japanese coastal towns. the uss "ronald reagan" was already in the area when the earthquake struck. japan's prime minister said today that this is japan's worst crisis since world war ii. and made a call for national unity. >>. >> translator: please, i ask each one of you. please have such determination. and to deepen your bond with
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your family members, neighbors, and people in your community, to overcome this crisis. so that japan can be a better place. we can build together. this is the message i'd like to emphasize to the japanese people. >> rescue teams are searching for quake survivors in sendai, japan, that's the city closest to the quake epicenter. and as cnn's kyung law discovered, it's now a town in ruins. >> reporter: military helicopters continued the search for the living in the tsunami-ravaged city of sendai. in this one residence area called futaki, rescuers are still pulling the injured to safety. a silver gurney lifts a survivor. but increasingly, the found are the dead. search crews pull a body from the waters, someone who drowned
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in a car. another body lies under this tarp. the large number of military and search crews finding more dead and fewer living victims as the hours pass. >> frightening beyond belief says this man, i have no words. his mother and uncle are missing and feared dead. they were both home as the tsunami came into futaki. he and his father now waiting for word. witnesses say here the first tsunami wave was as high as the top of this tree line. tossing cars like toys into piles. blasting out windows, crushing homes. or sweeping them away completely. this flooded area once had a row of houses. now, gone. the force of the tsunami flipped this truck completely upside-down. it landed here at this elementary school. wheels up. this school is quite a bit inland, but you see the signs of the tsunami. you can see how high the water
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and the debris line here, especially against the white wall of the school. and the power of the tsunami. the doors of the school are completely blown off. and look down the hallway. that's a car. 450 students, teachers and workers were in the school when the tsunami warning came. many managed to escape. but the japanese military says they pulled bodies from the school. the residents of futaki started returning home, but only briefly and carrying out what they could to evacuation centers. they face challenges on dry land. little gas, long lines. wrapped around a few stations open. and even longer lines of people, several blocks long at food and water distribution centers. a waiting game on multiple fronts for these tsunami survivors. kyung lah, cnn, sendai, japan. >> looking at the destruction in
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sendai, it's hard to imagine what the area looked like before this one-two punch. cnn's reggie akai is with us to show us an astonishing view of the before and after. >> it's a thirst for people to go to our people to go to our website and check this out. this is what the landing page is like when you go there. there's a site that you can click on here that goes to image of japan. and as you click on the various images here. you'll see photos that come up. video that comes up. i'm going to show you right now, this areas we've been focused on for the past 24 hours. and this is the power plant we've been talking about. the possible meltdown there. this is a before picture of what it looked like. i want you to take particular notice of these buildings that are at the bottom and closest to the water on the image. i'm going to scroll this over from before. to after. you're going to see that all of these buildings that were at the bottom of the image are now gone. and we have this for sendai.
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we have it for the sendai airport. to get a little closer now to that area, in fukushima, you can see what is happening there. as many of the, many of the people who live in the area are now tested for radiation. in fact, we're told at one hospital, at least one in five people was being tested for the radiation. going to show you again, another before-and-after picture before i leave you here. this is the town of ishinomaki, it's populated very close to the sea. i'm going to take it from before. and show you the after. these homes now under water or missing. then you can go to the focus here -- >> the water has engulfed it. >> you can see up close, fred, when you click on the photos that we have, what it looks like as they're rescuing some of the elderly in the area and this is the photo that continues to haunt me. this woman, standing in town, all the destruction behind her. blanket around her and that face. i mean that's a face that many
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people in japan are now wearing as they walk around today. >> very sad indeed. thanks so much for that incredible look at the before and after and what people are dealing with from this point on. back in japan, and around the world, people are scared about a possible nuclear meltdown. could a simple thing like weather actually help or hurt? wrench? wrench.
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people in japan and all over the world for that matter are worried about the risk of a nuclear meltdown in japan. two nuclear plants have released radiation beyond normal levels since the earthquake and tsunami hit. james walsh is a cnn contributor and an international security expert. good to see you. >> good to see you, fredricka. >> first of all, let me ask you to respond to this report of this fuel rod possibly melting in japan. what would that mean, if that were the case? >> well, you have to think about this along a continuum. if the fuel rod melts a little, that's not good. but that's not the same thing as having a full meltdown. and that's what we're, that's what people are guessing might have happened in two of those plants, fukiyama i and fukaymay iii.
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>> and the fuel escaped into the atmosphere and it was picked by a sensor. >> explain what the meltdown is. >> the meltdown, well that is a partial meltdown. we saw that at three mile island where we had a partial meltdown. but the meltdown was contained by the containment vessel. there are two walls in those fukiyama plants whose express purpose is to keep the molten material from leaking out into the environment. it's the last line of defense to prevent a meltdown from reaching the earth and exploding and being disbursed like what happened in chernobyl. >> we're heard some of the japanese officials say that that containment wall at least in one of those plants was the result of the explosion or it participated in some way to that explosion. what likely would have happened there? >> well the theory is there's a build-up of hydrogen that then ignited. both the international atomic energy agency and the local officials in japan maintain that the containment vessel has
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maintained its integrity. that it has not yet breached. there's no seen that it has been breched. one would hope if there's a partial melting or a full melting of those fuel rods, that the containment vessel would still be able to hold them so that they wouldn't leak out. but we don't know that, fredricka and it's not an spemplt y experiment you want to run. you don't want to put this to the test. this is the last step before really bad things happen. the main focus is to continue to cool plants so that the fuel rods do not melt. so that's why you have seawater being poured in as well as other measures being taken. >> what do you suppose the effectiveness of the seawater is that's being used to flood this plant? >> well one would have thought that that would have been highly effective. but when they, they're doing it twice now. they're doing it for unit one and unit three. they poured it into unit one and there still seemed to be problems. it did not cool down as fast as people would have anticipated. that raised questions about whether there were problems with
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the pumps or whether there was an issue with some leakage. but it appears now that unit one is cooling down. and the government maintains that its under control. and now we're moving on to a second round of this. in unit three and the evidence is still early. the latest report is that they've not yet covered the fuel rods, but they're pouring in the water as fast as they can. the other thing to say about this, fredricka is that's the poison pill. when you do that when you pour the seawater in you're essentially throwing your hands up and saying this plant is never going to run again. the seawater is going to corrode everything inside. >> later today we'll talk about the economic impact. that will be a component of it, later on. right now, stalk to me about the weather and how this might impact the containment of any kind of plumes of smoke. chemical, grains -- anything that may be in the air. if there's wind, if there's rain. if it indeed might snow. how might that impact or impair
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any of this? >> yeah. it's a great question. and you're right to ask it. well, when the weather is in your favor, the wind will blow any effluent, any of the vapor, anything that's vented or escapes from the plant, could blow it out to sea. if it blows east. but if it blows west, it could blow it back on to japanese territory or further on into east asia. and disburse it. now, if it rains, that's a good news/bad news situation. the rain will cleanse some of that material, radioactive material out of the atmosphere. so it will fall to the ground. it won't travel as far. but where it does fall, it will be more concentrated. so there's a bit of a tradeoff there. >> and further contaminate. and you said blowing east, still a possibility? >> exactly. >> do you see that possibly blowing very far east, thousands of miles that it would in any way impact the west coast of the u.s.? >> you know, i think that's highly unlikely. we saw during chernobyl, when
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you had a full-blown meltdown, you saw trace elements that were found around the globe and far-off distances, but not at levels that one would have expect to be a health hazard or anything like that. they just sort of showed up. with the amount that's venting, this is not going to be a global issue. >> jim walsh, thank you so much. we'll see you in an hour from now. let's check in with our jacqui jeras and talk a little more about the impact of the weather. we heard jim talking about different things that might happen as a result. if there's rain, more concentration, if the wind shifts one way or the other. that could potentially also be a problem. >> we'll have both things in the next 24-36 hours. this is satellite image here. you can see japan there. sendai, look what's happening in northern parts of the islands. there's a big storm system approaching and bringing in rain and possibly even a little bit of snow associated with this. we do think that the showers are going to be arriving monday night and continuing into tuesday and those terkmperature
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might be cold enough on tuesday morning that there could be a little snow mixing in. let's talk about the winds, because that could disburse things, winds coming in out of the southwest so anything that would develop or move into the air would then just pushoff shore. so that's of immediate concern. that's some good news. but the cold front, once it passes, that's going to bring a shift in the winds. and the winds will be northwesterly. and it's still going to push it offshore. at this point, very good news. the only thing we'd be watching for is in terms of wind gusts. if there's any debris from the earthquake or anything hanging by a thread, that could cause more problems and more damage associated with that. the winds very light right now. about five miles per hour. that's not terribly significant. but let's talk a little bit about the temperatures as well. 36 degrees fafahrenheit. that's the temperature it feels like right now in tokyo. we think it will be about 32 degrees in sendi. you can see the temperatures in
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40s to upper 30s. very cold, something to think about the rescue efforts that continue to go on and people without power, it's going to be very cold at night and they could be exposed to hypothermic conditions. >> we'll talk about that later on as well. there are weather woes in the u.s., including the northeast. right now a very anxious wait in new jersey. flood watches and warnings are still in place. and relief could be days away.
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other or stories that our affiliates are covering. government records show a tour bus company involved in a deadly crash has been involved in two other accidents with injuries in the last two years. the bus overturned yesterday in the bronx, new york, killing 14 people. investigators are still trying to determine the cause. and in new jersey, flood warnings and watches are in place along several rivers and streams. the passaic river is a major, is at major flood stage rather. but has started to recede some. the flooding lass driven hundreds of people from their homes. and on to oklahoma. firefighters are still trying to contain several big wildfires east of oklahoma city. the flames have destroyed at least 40 homes. let's check in again with our jacqui jeras. we've got some crazy conditions out there. i guess it's very dry in oklahoma, that there could be
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these wildfires right now? >> for weeks and weeks and the winds have whipped the conditions there. the good news is that most of the fires have been put out for most part. so that's good news. we're going to see improving conditions. they're like 80% contained and four large fires across the u.s. and new mexico as well as into texas. let's talk a little bit about the flood issue that's been ongoing across parts of the northeast. as well as the mid-atlantic states. there you can see we're just looking at light rain showers across the area. but we've got another system that's going to be approaching. that could complicate things a little bit. this is all really about the eastern third of the united states. we'll show you the radar picture across the nation's midsection. this is our next storm system that could be bringing in heavy rain across parts of the northeast. doesn't look like much right now on the radar picture. maybe two to four inches of snow expected with this thing. but as it develops and pushes on up to the north and the east, that's going to bring maybe half of an inch to an inch of rain in the already-aggravated parts of the east. and we've got another storm system that's lingering out
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west. that also could be an issue as it makes its way across the country. today it's bringing rain and heavy snow, we could be talking about three feet of snow in the higher elevations of the cascades. let's show you the big picture here and what we see in terms of tomorrow's forecast. with the system, stormy conditions across parts of the tennessee valley and the south. getting windy again on the back side of our system in oklahoma. so the fire issue, the good news is rain today and rain tomorrow, but we'll see winds to follow. hopefully that will be enough to kind of damper conditions and any sparks or embers that are still burning that could certainly help the situation as well. temperaturewise, we're seeing pretty comfortable, no the too bad. no extreme heat to complicate things. 73 in dallas, 76 in houston and you can see temperatures warming up. so any of the snow though still lingering with flood conditions to the northeast. that continues to melt, melt. >> thanks so much, jackie. japanese officials are desperately trying to prevent yet another nuclear catastrophe. an update on that effort after
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these images of a devastated country.
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officials are keeping a close watch on the nuclear plants there into northeastern japan. already, monitors have detected what bha have been the melting of a fuel rod at one of the plants. but there's no sign of dangerous radiation levels in the area. and in the wake of last week's earthquake and tsunami, 1.3 million japanese households are still without power today. japan's prime minister says that to prevent a massive power outage, the japanese people will have to endure rolling blackouts. >> translator: we could fall into power outage in a wide area. and sudden power failure could devastate the lives of people as well as to the industrial activities. and this is something that we must avoid. >> in bahrain, more violent anti-government protests. police fired teargas at one of
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several demonstrations in the kingdom's capital. in another protest, several people were hurt. at bahrain university when supporters of the royal family faced off with student protesters. and forces loyal to libya's moammar gadhafi are back in control of al grega. libyan state television reports that troops retook the town, but opposition fighters tell cnn that their forces left, calling it quote tactical retreat. al bragga is important because it's the site of a large oil refinery and natural gas processing plant. the group who controls the region could turn off electricity ain key parts of th region. we'll have report on that in 20 minutes. nearly 1600 people are now confirmed dead in japan. as rescue workers and reporters reached the hardest-hit areas,
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expect the number to grow even more. cnn's gary tuchman has been driving across japan and came across some of the worst devastation that he's seen so far. >> this is minamisa japan. never in my career of covering natural disasters have i seen a town so utterly pulverized. just completely mowed down. but this is not from the earthquake. this is from the tsunami. and we know that, because this is where the water stopped on its way from the ocean. if you go to the half-mile if here, a half-mile west, there's absolutely no damage whatsoever in the nearby neighborhoods. but here, there's nothing left. we see cars, we see trucks, we see motor homes, trees. personal belongings of people all over the place. and they come from all over this town of 20,000 people. now there are still thousands of people unaccounted for. that doesn't mean they're all dead. it doesn't mean they're all
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hurt, it's hard to keep track of people. but the fact is, there are still many bodies under this rubble. throughout the day today and yesterday, ambulances were coming in and out. they heard people screaming. they took them out. right now, we hear no more voices, we're being told by rescue emergency officials, they don't believe there's anyone still alive in the rubble. but as we said, there are still people who perished in this earthquake and the tsunami. i think what's really unusual about the situation, is we drove across the country from the west coast of japan to here on the east coast. and we saw virtually no damage whatsoever until we got to this spot three miles away from the pacific ocean. we're still feeling aftershocks here. that caused a lot of anxiety in japan as it did in haiti last year after the january 12th earthquake there. the aftershocks continue for a long time. many people to this day refuse to go do their homes in haiti, scared that the homes will collapse because of the aftershocks and that's the situation in japan, a lot of anxiety after the 8.9 earthquake and the tsunami which has killed so many people.
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this is gary tuchman in the earthquake zone, in japan. dozens of countries are offering to help japan. take a look at the map. the countries in gold have either already sent crews and supplies, or have announced that they intend to offer assistance. even the poor southern afghan city of kandahar announced it is donating $50,000 to what it calls its brothers and sisters in japan. one of the first u.s. search teams are now on the ground in japan. and cnn's brian todd is embedded with them. he was able to send this report before the team headed to the areas where we might not be able to make contact again soon. >> we just landed at masawa air base in northern jamb japan with the fairfax county county and the l.a. county rescue teams. they're preparing their gear, waiting for the orders as to where to deploy into the quake zone where the worst-hit areas are. they have a lot of equipment that has been brought with them. along with dog teams and
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inflatable boats, jackhammers, things like that all the things they're going to need to go into these areas and extract victims from the rubble of the quake. it's been a long haul from washington, d.c. area for this team, we stopped in l.a. to pick up the l.a. county search and rescue team and headed to anchorage, alaska and landed here, in a bit of a holding pattern, waiting for orders to deploy into the quake zone. these guys are eager to get started. what they'll do, as soon as we get to the quake zone is set up a base camp and some of the team will be out just doing recon and already getting into those areas to start to extract people from the rubble. brian todd, cnn, masawa air base, japan. next, how japan's tsunami and earthquake could effect electrics your.
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earthquake could affect the cost and availability of consumer electronics. tech guru, marc saltzman joibs me live from toronto. what is reichly to happen? >> keep in mind, some of the biggest tech companies are based in japan. sony, panasonic, toshiba, sharp, kyosira. fujitsu, nintendo, sanyo. what's likely to happen is stls going to be some major shipment delays, as predicted by a few market research firms, as well as inflatable costs. in the short term. keep in mind, it's not just japanese companies here that are being affected. even american tech companies
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like power houses like apple, or san disk, they order their parts from japan. 40% of all flash memory is coming from japan. so this is likely to have a domino effect around the world. >> that means there are likely to be shipping delays as well? >> that's correct. there's going to be some shipping delays, we've got some major launches around this time of year as well, the ipad ii just debuted in the u.s. on friday. as well as around the world on the 25th of march. we've got two weeks today, the nintendo 3-ds, the portable gaming system, with a 3-d display that doesn't require glasses. presumably, the first batch, the first shith of these units have been sent around the world, getting ready for retail. but even a toshiba says in a company statement, in addition to delivery interruptions, shipments of product may be affected by disruptions in road, real, sea and air transportation
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within and from japan. so they're bracing for these delays. >> i imagine stock prices of a lot of tech companies will be impacted as well? >> yes, they already have. it hasn't been catastrophic. but we've seen dips on friday. sony is down 2.4%. kyosyra slid 3% and panasonic dropped 1.77%. but keep in mind, and unfortunately, the worst, you know, hopefully the worst is behind them in japan. because the company, the country is still bracing for aftershocks. you know, as big as 7-magnitude aftershock. as well as trying to contain a nuclear meltdown. so let's hope and pray that the worst is behind them and that it's upwards and onwards, but it's clear that investors are nervous, as reflected in the stock prices. >> and of course a lot of people, last thing on their minds there is technology and the manufacturing and shipping, et cetera. but we ask these questions because it does make a sizeable economic potentially a sizeable economic impact on a country
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that's already been suffering quite extensively over the past few years. marc saltzman, thanks so much. thanks, fredricka. as terrible as it is, japan's national disaster could have been much worse, an early earthquake warning system may have helped save a whole lot of lives, we'll find out exactly how it works. [ crickets chirping ]
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the last time japan
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experienced an earthquake like this 8.9-magnitude monster was nearly 90 years ago. the great kanto quake hit in 1923, killing more than 143,000 people. the next deadliest was the 1995 kobe quake, with a 7.2 magnit e magnitude. 6400 people died in that quake. so japan has learned a lot from these previous earthquakes, especially the kobe quake. jacqui jeras right here now to give us an idea of the kind of very sophisticated system they have in place to help people know what's on the rise. >> this is one of the best, if not the best in the world in terms of early warning and that can make all the difference in terms of saving lives. the more time you have to prepare, the better off you'll be. japan has been working on this, an automatic system, not just getting the warning that you guys see on your television when it sakes earthquake warning or
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tsunami warning. this is integrated into all different parts of society. and even when kids are small, elementary school, they go through these earthquake drills, they have helmets on their head and they're prepared and everybody takes it seriously. we have some video to show you that gives you an example of how they were alerted and what happened this is parliament that was in session and they were talking. and as we go throughout the video, there you can see the warning alerted on the bottom of the screen. and if you look at the guys in the second row on the righthand side, it takes about eight seconds, all of a sudden they all start looking up. and so they had a little bit of warning before they started to feel this. and this was in tokyo by the way, which was over 100 miles away from the epicenter. so the warning comes up. it's not just on your television, it's not just on the radio. you can get apps on your smartphone or you can get alerted that it will even override it if you're on silence. factory production is halted immediately. so if production is going on to
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prevent any additional breaking or anything like that going on. and bullet trains are literally stopped in their tracks. where they are. whether out in the open country or maybe even a tunnel. they will stop those bullet trains, because they think that will be a safer situation if that thing kept on going. how does it work? basically there's millions and thousands of little sensors all over the place in japan. and they're also on ocean floor and they detect any kind of movement in the earth's crust. now when an earthquake occurs, there are two different types of waves, p waves and s waves. these are the p waves, a compression wave. they come first and they come the fastest. following those p waves, are the s waves and these are the ones that go up and down and they're the ones that cause the damage. so as the sensors see those p waves that are coming, they send out the warning before that damage occurs and in this situation, i think there was probably about 40 to 60 seconds
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before they felt the earthquake. while that doesn't sound like a lot, it might be enough time to get you underneath something sturdy or get you outdoors, in more of a safe condition. on top of that, they have the tsunami warning which took place and they probably had between 15 and 30 minutes to get to higher ground and sometimes you have to evacuate up to get to a safer position. >> does the u.s. have a system, anything like say the earthquake system? >> the simple answer is no. we don't have anything automated. we do have an warning system in place. the usgs says they hope they're five years and a couple million dollars away from having this. we'll check back with you momentarily. time for a cnn equals politics update. we're keeping an eye on the latest headlines on the cnn.com/politics desk. u.s. congress must take action this week to prevent the government from shutting down on friday. that's when funding runs out. republicans and democrats are
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expected to pass another short-term money extension to avoid a federal government shutdown while negotiations on the final budget bill continue. a homecoming this weekend in wisconsin for 14 democratic senators who fled the state to block a vote on a bill cutting public workers' union rights. they were greeted by cheering crowds at the state capitol. the republican-controlled senate passed the controversial bill last week without the democrats by taking out its spending provisions. and an historical gaffe from a potential presidential hopeful during a trip to new hampshire. congresswoman michelle bachman quote, you're the state where the shot was heard round the world at lexington and concord. those battles were in fact fought in massachusetts. and for the latest political news, you know exactly where to go. cnnpolitics.com.
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in other news, from overseas, more than 100 people reportedly were hurt in yemen's capital after security forces fired guns and tear gas at protesters outside sunaa
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university. crowds of young people have been demonstrating over high unemployment and ha they see as government corruption. egypt's military has started rebuilding a burned-out church. authorities believe it was torched because of a feud between muslim and coptic cryptian families. and forces loyal to moammar gadhafi are back in control of al bregga. opposition leaders tell cnn the forces left, calling it a quote tactical retreat. so who controls al breggha is significant in libya's evolving civil war. it means they have their hands on the on and off switch for electricity in the region. >> the libyan government continues to advance. the latest is that they've taken over the strategic town of al breggha, two hours drive west of
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benghazi. it's the site of a large oil refinery and natural gas processing plant. in fact, the natural gas from al brega is what fuels the power plants for benghazi itself. who controls that power plant can turn off the electricity in what is effect the capital of the revolution in libya. now at this point it would appear that the government forces control ras lanuf and al brega. and there's not much to stop the government forces getting to benghazi, where i am. it's about a two-hour drive on a largely undefended highway. what we've seen so far is despite their spirit and determination, the anti-gadhafi forces continue to be unorganized and essentially completely outgunned, unable to stop this advance by forces loyal to moammar gadhafi. i'm ben wedeman, cnn, reporting
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from benghazi. and reminiscent of rescues after katrina, there are rooftop rescues taking place in japan. more after this.
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in japan, the search for survivors is still under way. in neighborhoods swallowed by walls of water from the tsunami. earlier this morning, cnn international correspondent, anna coren was in the town of ishinomaki and described to cnn the damage she saw. >> reporter: the tsunami has just ripped through this city. we're on the outskirts of the neighborhood and i'm just seeing house after house, demolished, absolutely obliterated. there is debris absolutely everywhere. roofs down, houses on their side. boats tossed around. it just, it's a scene of complete and utter devastation,
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pauline. we've been with the military on what, you know, we hope to be a search & rescue operation. it quickly became a recovery operation, pauline. bodies were recovered, they were removed from the houses. and that is what is turning into. while there may be hope of finding some survivors at the end of the day. where i am, people are really just, just coming out in body bags. it's really quite tragic. that is the scene where i am at the moment. and you just have to to wonder, pauline, as people come back, how they're going to rebuild their lives. >> anna, as we're talking with you, we are seeing some taped video of a helicopter that appears to be pulling someone from a rooftop. i'm not sure if it could possibly be a survivor or possibly a rescue crew member.
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but at this point, you're saying that it's more of a search-and-recovery effort. are you hearing anything from residents that you've been able to talk to on the ground, about their situation. what they're hoping to do. moving forward. >> well, i think people are able to get to the second story of their buildings and sturdy, strong, well-built buildings, they could very well have survived. that's probably why the helicopters are able to rescue people off their rooftops. we spoke to one man here who said he climbed on to the roof while the tsunami rolled through. he said he was so very lucky to be alive. we spoke to know man who got the warning, got in his car and, and drove off to higher ground. but where i am, a lot of elderly people, this is also quite a rural farming community, with the pockets of houses, sort of
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estates. so lots of houses. and there's lots of helicopters flying over me. there's so many people, particularly the elderly, they weren't able to get out. it was less than half an hour between the quake and the actual tsunami roaring through this area. so to the elderly, you know, so many of them just weren't able to get out. so from the bodies that we have seen retrieved from the houses today, many of them, most of them were elderly. it's now the top of the hour, 4:00 a.m. in japan. and here's the latest on the recovery efforts there. japanese officials say it's possible a minor meltdown has already happened at a nuclear plant in northeast japan. monitors detected what may have been melting a fuel rod at the